Why Discussion and Reasoning Have Failed

Want to know why communicating with people on the other side has become so difficult? Well, everyone focuses on the outrageous things Rush Limbaugh says, but if you listen to his show, you can see that underneath all the nonsense, what he’s doing is teaching people the dirty tricks of rhetoric and debate. He’s been showing his listeners how to trip people up with manufactured double binds, sentences crafted to allow you to believe something other than what is being communicated, gaslighting, diversion, red flags and other tactics which are used to turn communication into a weapon for dominance.

Which leads us to the core conflict that many people seem to have missed. The issue is that Trump supporters and the radical right are playing a power game, pure and simple. The rest of us are out here talking about issues, right and wrong, what’s best for the country, etc and can’t figure out why things like facts, morality and reality don’t mean anything to these people. Well, that’s because they are concerned with dominance, period, amen, end of story. Their dominance has been threatened by the rest of us and they want it back. There’s really nothing more to it than that.

Obviously, this is a big problem that we’re going to be working to change for a while, but in the meantime I for one am done playing this game where I try to reason with people whose only real concern is maintaining the dominant position. Aren’t you tired of playing the game? What’s going on in the world is not a game. We aren’t moving chess pieces on a board to determine who gets to be dominant. It’s bullshit.

If you’re tired too, just stop playing. Stop explaining every freaking thing you say, answering every objection and taking the bait for every diversionary red flag. Refuse to engage unless they are willing to do in a genuine way and not just with an eye towards domination. Because ultimately, this is how we beat their stupid, pathetic, childish game: you stop playing it with them.

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Stop Arguments Online Like a Mom

My husband is completely convinced that there are Jews somewhere in my Polish lineage. Because three of my great joys in life are being thrifty, complaining and arguing. I tell him that this must mean that there are Jews somewhere in his Irish lineage. The Irish filtered out the cheap part, I explained. But he thinks it must come from somewhere around Ethiopia on his African side. Which would explain his reluctance to embrace the fine stereo-typically Jewish trait of thrift, that part of Africa being home to long lines of kings and priests and all.

So we wait with anxious anticipation to see if our children will inherit our likely fictitious Jewish heritage in rudely stereotypical ways. So far, the one thing we can say with absolute certainty is that 4 of the 5 have definitely have a love of arguing. Which could be genetic or could be a fulfillment of the mother’s curse – “I hope that one day you have children just like you!” (Don’t use the mother’s curse, btw. It’s not a nice thing to say to your children. You’re telling them you don’t like them. Unless you’re cursing them over things like repeatedly unrolling the toilet paper into the toilet. Then, you know . . . the universe understands. And so will your kid one day.)

Our kids are kind of strangely spaced. We had our first two 4 years apart, so they mostly argued with us instead of each other. In fact, my older son told me recently that when he was little he was convinced that his dad and I were the smartest people in the world. Because he’s very perceptive, of course. So he decided that if he could outsmart one of us, that would make him the smartest person in the world. So basically like Hollywood and award shows, he made up an award in his head that he intended to bestow on himself. And I was like, “wow. Your childhood is suddenly making much more sense to me now.”

But then we had two girls 17 months apart. Which is a fairly common spacing for kids, for reasons that I’m not sure entirely justify the actual experience of having two children 17 months apart. I mean, it has its positives, certainly. But it’s not without difficulties. As is to be expected when your body grows two little humans in parasite fashion so close together. But there are certain common relationship dynamics you see more often with children who are 17 months apart. In fact, once you know the signs, you can recognize children who are 16-19 months apart just by watching them out in public together. It’s true. On more than one occasion, I have approached a parent and correctly identified their children as about 17 months apart myself.

All you have to do is look for two children who are similar or the same size who will not stop arguing dramatically with each other and a parent who is just barely keeping them under control. Sure, all children argue, but kids 17 months apart seem to have a particular affinity for arguing incessantly. It’s a thing. And of course my daughters are Trotters, so they argue incessantly with great gusto, creativity and commitment.

I have literally witnessed conversations where they have all but come right out and said, “I’m bored. Would you like to argue with me?” To which the other responded with “sure! Let me say or do this incendiary thing that always gets you going! Will that work?”

Once, my middle daughter came to me in tears holding her little fist in front of her. She wailed, “Michaela broke my pretend pinwheel!”

I suggested that since it was a pretend pinwheel, she should pretend to fix the pinwheel. She scrunched up her little face with concentration and then announced (screamed) that she didn’t know how to fix it. It was still broken. So I suggested that she imagine herself a new one. Again, the concentration and then more tears. “Now it’s the wrong color!”

On many occasions I witnessed them arguing over who got more of the pretend soda or cookie or cake. These girls put their all into this shit. They don’t do it as often as they did when they were younger, but we’re expecting that to change when they hit their teens. It should be quite a show. Maybe we’ll put cameras all over the house and turn it into a show. Make it a pay-per-view thing. Pay for their college tuition.

As you can imagine, this incessant arguing can get old. Even for someone who can literally write essays with a small child sitting on her head. And because they’re Trotters, they are also extremely passionate. People can get hurt if it carries on too long. PTSD triggering screaming, hitting and bumping around may ensue. And sometimes someone does veer into out-of-bounds territory which is never pleasant or easy to recover from. Stopping them from arguing is impossible. I mean, kids need to have their fun too. But being able to consistently bring an argument to an end quickly, on demand, without escalating the situation or subjecting yourself to their bullshit is a necessity.

I have a super simple method for doing just that, even when your kids are incredibly stubborn (another stereotypical Jewish trait all Trotters share). Not only will it work on your kids (maybe. They’re all different, apparently), it can easily be modified work when dealing with arguments you’re invited to on social media. Here it is: I tell them to shut up. And then I make loud, ugly noises every time they continue trying to speak. And when they continue trying to argue, I chase them off, waving my arms wildly around them, in different directions, while making loud, ugly noises.

Eventually they harrumph and move on to doing something else that doesn’t involve arguing. Or they continue arguing with the air while exiling themselves to someplace where nobody has to hear them. And the whole time, I refuse to consider or reply to any of their arguments or attempts to turn me against their sister. Because I don’t care about their stupid argument, I just want them to shut up and I will not allow them to get a word in edgewise until they stop with the arguing. Completely.

So, how does this translate into arguments online? Well, your best bet is to ignore them; especially when you’re not directly involved in the disagreement already. Don’t go getting into arguments just because you can’t resist the urge to join in an argument. But when someone is insistent on arguing with you and you no longer believe that they are working in good faith or just don’t want to have to deal with stupid right then, make them shut up. Delete their comment if it’s on your wall. Refuse to be baited into responding. Don’t even engage with their arguments, which have been addressed many, many, many times before. Insult them and then turn off the notifications. Tell them you’re going to turn off the notifications before you do it too. Be so weird, obnoxious, rude or outrageous that they use your behavior as an excuse to disengage and shut up. Let them think you’re a jerk and a lunatic. Because let’s face it – we are dealing with people who think that good is bad and bad is good. So who cares what they think of you? It does get to the point where arguing is leading nowhere good AND you don’t really care about their stupid arguments. You just need them to stfu in your space.

And you know what? People who like to argue can take it. It’s not going to scar them for life if you’re rude or weird or just delete everything you can and ignore the rest. You’re dealing with full grown adults or at least people who are pretending to be full grown adults. I mean, yeah, it might seem rude to just make people shut up, unilaterally. But if they like to argue that much, they’ll probably just move on to complaining about you. It’s another of life’s great joys, after all. I always encourage my kids to complain about me with each other and to their friends. You should expect the complainers you deal with to do likewise. So, really, you’re doing the person who won’t stop arguing a favor by giving them something to complain to their friends about and bringing them closer together.

Bloggy Linky Goodness

OK, OK, you got me – I skipped Bloggy Linky Goodness last week. I’m sure there was a perfectly good reason. Which I’d tell you if it was actually important. Or if I had enough brain power left to try to remember what it was. But it’s back! Hooray!

Before I get started, allow me to share one of the weird things I’ve been thinking about. First, the number 40. Remember how it rained for 40 days and 40 nights for Noah? And how the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. And Jesus retreated to the desert for 40 days before starting his ministry. And it takes 40 days to gestate a human baby. Coincidence? I think not.

Now on to Bloggy Linky Goodness: Continue reading

Bloggy Linky Goodness – My 500th Post

So, after my less that cheerful and uplifting post last night, tonight I’m all good news. First of all, it’s still Sunday somewhere in the US of A which means that this is the 3rd week in a row that I’ve gotten Bloggy Linky Goodness out on time. Which is like a record for me or something.

Second, this is my 500th blog post. And I want you all to be properly impressed by this feat because it was done with children climbing all over me. I’m not even kidding – last fall, Olivia was channelling the spirit of a cat and kept sitting on my head and neck while I typed. Be impressed, damnit. According a guesstimation based on the usual length of my blog posts, this means I have written approximately as many words here at The Upside Down World as are in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Hobbit. And I’ve only occasionally repeated myself. So, yay me! Too bad I don’t have any rum to have a celebratory drink with. I guess you’ll have to have one for me. But only if you’re old enough and not a recovering alcoholic. In which case, just grab some water and say, “yay Rebecca!” with that instead. B-b-b-b-but, but wait – it gets better! In honor of my 500th blog post, I’m offering 5 days of free-ness on the Kindle version of The Upside Down World ~ A Book of Wisdom in Progress. From Wednesday through Sunday of this week, you will be able to download my book from Amazon free of charge. I’m giving you a few days advance notice so you have time to inform your family and friends and arrange your downloading parties to take advantage of this amazing offer.

Third – and this is really the best news of all – I think I finally reached spiritual home today. The long journey I’ve been on is complete and I’m ready to start a whole new leg of the adventure. It’s good. I know some of you have been worried (hi, Mom!), but I’m finally OK. I can’t begin to guess when my non-spiritual life will pick up, but that’s just piddly stuff compared to where I’m at now. However, the details are all stuff I’ll have to be getting into over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

Oh – and speaking of my mom, today is my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary! Yep – that’s them on their wedding day up at the top there. They are traveling through the Canadian Rockies where they took their honeymoon right this moment. Only this time, I’m pretty sure they are using hotels and not a tent. So, if you still have that drink handy say, “congratulations, Rebecca Trotter’s mom and dad!” (I’m sure that’s how they want to be addressed these days – as “Rebecca Trotter’s mom and dad”! LOL) If your drink’s already gone, pour yourself another and maybe think about cutting back on the sauce, will ya? Continue reading

Bloggy Linky Goodness

Ages ago, I briefly tried putting up a weekly list of links to interesting things I was reading. But consistency isn’t really my thing. My week had 8 days in it and all it take for me to forget what I’m doing is walking through a doorway. But, part of the whole blogging/social media experience is building connections with others and promoting eachother’s work. Even for us introverts. So, I’ve decided to go ahead and try the weekly linky thing again. ‘Cuz I always enjoy other people’s linky roundups and I’m always thinking I need to pass on something I’ve read. But I’m going to need your help. If you have a blog post you’d like me to include – your own or someone else’s, please email the link to ratrotter73@yahoo.com or use the form on my contact page to send it to me. Not only will it get your link in front of a couple thousand people, a steady trickle of submissions will help offset my tendency to forget what I’m supposed to be doing.

So without further ado – here’s some awesomeness you should go read: Continue reading

Beautiful Things

Now for something totally different.  I love beautiful things and I have a favorite artist I’d like to pass along to y’all.  Her name is Natasha Wescoat.  She first gained attention for her “Trees” series of paintings.  Recently, she has been drawing and painting beautiful women, children and different creatures – often for illustrations she is working.  Her work is often described as “whimsical” pop art, but it’s like superior, top-quality, non-cheesy pop art.

Not only do I enjoy her art, but she’s building a name and a business for herself her own way.  Her work is affordable and she sells directly to her fans rather than just waiting for some critic or corporate taste-maker to put their stamp of approval on her work.  And that appeals to me as well.  (If you like her work, the best way to see it regularly and have a chance to buy it is to follow her on facebook.)

At any rate, I just wanted to clue y’all into something that makes me happy.